Friday, January 16, 2015

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Family

I was born and raised in the Bay Area, specifically, the East Bay. I stayed in the Bay Area to go to college (Go, SF State!) and have worked throughout the Bay Area, except for the South and North Bays. I'm not just a California girl, I'm a Bay Area native.
I think a ton of it has to do with my family. My parents and brother live in the East Bay. I have quite a bit of extended family here, as well. Long time family friends are considered uncles and aunties.
I've thought about moving. I had wanted to go to LA to attend a university, love where my sister lives in Washington and adore vacationing in Hawaii. I've even thought about the Philippines just because, when I'm there, I love all the extended family I get to see.
But there's something about being able to see my parents whenever I want to. There's something about knowing my kids are loved when they're being taken care of by their Nana and Papa. And there's something to be said about having a village - my family - surrounding me when there are tough times.
My parents are probably the first ones to drive me crazy but there's also the people (along with my brother and sister) who I've loved the longest in my life. I wish my sister lived closer - she's one of my best friends. I'm so grateful my parents, along with the state, found a good home for my autistic brother so he's close by.
I was raised in a religion I know longer practice but time and time again it preached the importance of family. What made an even stronger impact on my view of family is how my parents treated their brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews ... and us.
My parents were both the first in their families to immigrate to the United States. They knew very few people and they had no one helping them out - no trust funds, no allowances, nothing. Not only did they support themselves but they sent money back home to their parents to help support their siblings. Then, when their brothers and sisters wanted to follow them, my parents took the time and effort to petition each of them. And then provided them a free place to stay and eat while they figured out their employment. My parents also gave money if they could or provided loans to family members to help them get on their feet. Now we all know how that can damage a relationship but my parents also knew how much it would help. My parents also gave money and whatever else they could to nieces and nephews who needed it. Sometimes they would even argue about it because a family member would go to one of them, specifically, and without talking about it, one of my parents would go ahead and lend or give them the money. My parents did and continue to attend all events - birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals and everything in between - to show that they love and care.
And then there's how they treated me. I was fortunate to be born when my parents were financially established. They weren't rich but they weren't stretched too thin anymore. My sister remembers when my dad would fry bologna to make it a little fancier. I also remember using powdered milk for a while when my aunt and her kids lived with us but never thought anything of it. Because despite us living in a lower income area, I never wanted for anything. (That just goes to show that my parents also know how to live within their means - my mom has the ability to squeeze two pennies together and make a dollar. She had a medical career but I believe her true calling was in finance.) My dad always made sure we had delicious Filipino home-cooked meals, my mom always made certain I had the latest and greatest technology for school, and they entertained whatever silly trend was happening, whether it be dolls, clothes or hair accessories. If my mom and dad thought my requests were somewhat reasonable, I got whatever it is I wanted. They certainly vetoed things that they thought were too extravagant but I was most definitely a blessed child.
I think part of their goal or dream was to make sure their kids got what they didn't. My parents made sure I didn't pay a single dime for my education. The only money I paid was my first year of graduate school. And that was just the tuition, they paid for books, transportation and even gave me an allowance. OK, I know that was a bit spoiled. But when I expressed guilt, my mom said that I was educating myself so she wanted to support that. She and my dad wanted me to focus on my studies and that meant not working unless the job supported my education. Who does that???
My parents.
They continue to show generosity with their time and funds towards my children. My daughter is the apple of their eye and she gets so many dresses and accessories from her Nana and Papa during the holidays. And throughout the year! Just because my parents saw something in the store and thought their granddaughter would love it.
I jokingly tell my mom that I pulled her out of retirement again now that she takes care of The Bean. Five years, the last time I had a newborn, has taken a toll on them. They both move slower, they've got more ailments and, quite simply, have grown older. But they, especially my mom, wants to help me. She knows that she is saving me a lot of money by watching my son full-time but she also said it gives her peace knowing he is with people who love him and want to do no harm. Because of our schedules, it's not an easy task. The Man has to take our son to my parents because I can't take him to my parents and The Bun to school and make it to work in time. So The Man takes The Bean before work which means dropping him off at my parents a little after 5:00 in the morning.
I know, right? Talk about being yanked out of retirement. My mom, his primary care giver, watches him for about 12 hours of the day. She could be doing anything else but for five days a week, she watches my son for 12 hours. This is how she and my dad show their love for me and for my son.
I used to think all grandparents are like this. From what I hear from friends, there are quite a few that are. But there are also many grandparents who have told their kids that they are done raising babies and they want to relax. I'm so very blessed that my parents don't take that point of view. They see an opportunity to help me out so they do.
From time to time, I moan and groan about wanting to rest, about wanting "me" time. But then I remember just how much my parents have sacrificed and how much harder they've had it than me and I realize that I should really just grin and bear it. They've always made family #1 and I hope to instill that kind outlook in my kids.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

52 Weeks of Gratitude: The Man

The Man and I met in 2001. What a unpredictable ride it's been! I mean, I knew he was ideal boyfriend material but marriage, a house and kids were just beyond me at that point.
Here we are, 14 years later. We've been  married almost seven years and have a daughter and a son together. We regularly turn to each other and say how we still feel like we're in our 20s even though we're in our mid and late 30s now. Well, our bodies definitely feel older but our hearts still kind of feel like we're 20-something year old kids playing house.
They are thick as thieves<3
The Man is a superb dad. Our daughter is definitely a Daddy's girl. She wanted to marry him for years and just recently moved on to other prospects. He dotes on her and has a ton of patience. I don't want her to grow up too fast. But I laugh inside whenever I think about how it will be when she starts dating. The Man may or may not be the kind of dad who polishes his rifle when a boy comes to visit.
Not too many daddies let their daughters go buck wild with face paint.
He is truly my partner in life. He's more than a father but I have to keep talking about this aspect of him because it's so relevant, with a new baby and all. There are some men who are hands off. He is the opposite. The Man is right there with me, changing diapers, holding a kiddo, playing dress up, cleaning spit up, cleaning far worse ... you get it. As a full-time working mama, this matters so much to me. Don't get it twisted, I fully expect this from him but I know that it's not the way with all men. So while I expect this of him I also am truly grateful. He's the type of guy who knew he always wanted to be a dad but he also knew he would be doing the work that comes along with it. I love and appreciate that so very much.
I get a kick out of how much our son looks like my husband. Especially since he's always wanted that. Family has always been important to him and, when we were dating, he used to tell me how he would love to see himself in our kids. I know he was disappointed when so many people would say that The Bun looked like me. Now he has his baby twin in The Bean! It seriously is uncanny how much they look alike.
Enjoying a basketball game while cuddling The Bean.
It's hard for me to fathom that we've known each other for over a decade. We have many ups and downs (anyone that has kids because they think it will make their relationship strong is NUTS! Kids truly test the strength of a marriage. But that's another post.) We weather the storms, though, and continue on our beautiful journey. He is my partner, my best friend, my frienemy (only when we bicker), my soulmate, my world. It's terrifying to know that one person could mean so much to me but he does. I am thankful and feel blessed that God made our paths cross.
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Friday, January 09, 2015

Weight, what did you say?

My never ending journey to lose weight! Or so it seems. I don't remember when I last wrote about it. I was determined to lose all the baby weight because it took me FOUR YEARS to do it last time. And then I promptly got pregnant again. Sooooo ...
Either age or having two babies made me realize that I need to love and accept my body for what it is and for its realistic potential.
Let me share my history. For a very long time, I desired to be back at the weight when I was at my smallest. Well, I've been a size 2 only 3 times in my life -
1. I caught mono from the first boy I ever made out with and then he broke my heart. Not the healthiest of diets.
2. My college boyfriend and I broke up during my sophomore year and it happened to be an epic break up. It occurred over 3-4 excruciatingly long months that caused me to lose sleep, lose my appetite and lose all sense of self-worth. Oh, and I smoked a lot of cigarettes and drank a lot of coffee. An even worse diet, yes?
3. I just got my graduate degree and was starting my first professional, full-time job. I was stressed. Again, not exactly a long-term solution.
But life got better, a lot better, and I got comfortable. Content. Happy. Fluffy.
I'm 36 years old and have done various diets for 11 years. I've done Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins Diet and the Dukan Diet. I should point out that I was at my current desired weight when I did WW, hoping to lose 10 lbs and once again be at the "skinniest I had ever been in my life" weight.
That's right, I was at my goal weight back then and thought I was chubby. I desperately wanted to be 10 lbs lighter. I often hear I'm not alone in this phenomenon of wishing to go back to a weight that, at that time, wasn't good enough.
Fast forward to 2009 when I got pregnant and gained 30 lbs. Not bad, right? Pretty average, even though I'm only 5'1". But then I couldn't get it off. I lost 20 lbs. rather quickly but the last 10 were sticking to me like glue. Then it crept up to 15 lbs.
What. The. Hell.
It stayed like that for a long time. Years. And I was uncomfortable. Sure, there was a vanity issue - I wasn't used to being this size. But I was also unhealthy. I was eating poorly, not exercising regularly and I just felt like I was in a rut. Then, in 2013, I was introduced to Purium by a few FB friends who weren't even friends with each other! They just happened to be doing the cleanse at the same time. Out of desperation, I asked one how to buy it and I did. No research, no taste test, I just did it. I did a full cleanse and then a couple of half ones and lost the remaining weight and then a few more pounds. I was actually at my wedding day weight. Still not what was my dream weight but I hadn't seen that number since 2008 so I happily took it and liked it! Then, as I mentioned, I got pregnant.
I didn't want to take another four years to lose the baby weight. I loooove my babies and I wanted to also love my body. In addition to Purium, I also decided to do JumpStartMD. I needed help to change my views on eating because, honestly, I didn't and sometimes still don't have a healthy attitude. I preferred processed food and really didn't care for fresh vegetables. Purium helped a lot with this but I needed in-person assistance to be held accountable because my old habits are so strong. JumpStartMD focuses on health rather than merely weight loss. They evaluated everything about me - my body fat, muscle, blood and blood pressure to figure out what my healthiest weight should be. It made me more at peace with my determined goal because it had everything to do with health and far less to do with vanity or insecurity. They also re-evaluate me throughout the process to make sure I don't lose muscle mass but, rather, fat.
I've lost 5 lbs. with JumpStartMD. My goal weight still seems a bit aggresive just because I haven't seen that # in a decade. I've also found that every single pound has been a struggle. I am very proud to have lost those 5 lbs because they were HARD. And I managed to do some of it during the holidays which is unheard of for me. So even though I merely have 5 lbs to go, it's going to be very challenging. But I'm giving it my all because I didn't even think I could get to where I am right now. 

I've learned and continue to learn how to make healthier choices. I've learned to love my body even though certain things make me cringe, like my stretch marks. I used to think this kind of stuff was hokey or hippy-dippy but when I saw my own body change like rashes going away when I ate better, I realized it was the truth. It might be the wisdom that comes with getting older but I've learned that I have to be careful what I'm letting in my body because it really does have serious consequences or benefits later in life. 

I think that my obsession with my weight has turned to a healthy passion to eat and feel better. I love me some chocolate and I don't think that's ever going to change. But I'm finally happy with how I'm going about losing weight and feeling really good about it. Here's to getting rid of the LAST FIVE POUNDS.

Hello, 2015!

It's time to buckle down and start writing again.
Here's the thing: For years, I've been trying to work on being present, you know, enjoying the moment. I am such a list cross-er off-er (tell me what the word is for that and I'll gladly use it!) that I've had to constantly work on enjoying the process. Because, let's face it, LIFE is the process ... right? Anyway, I've still got a long way to go but I'm much better than I was.
In this process of enjoying the process (oh, the irony), however, I've let writing fall by the wayside. Again. I know that I've let other social media be my outlet but, really, it doesn't end up being a fulfilling one. When I look back on FB to see my thoughts and how my life was at a certain point, it's not the same as when I look back on this blog. There is the benefit, of course, of having to string sentences together here to make a coherent thought as opposed to the random bits I throw onto my FB wall. Don't get me wrong, I adore FB. Too much in fact! It's absolutely wonderful for staying in contact with so many people - family, good friends, so-so friends, and, let's face it, the people you don't want to talk but can't help being curious about. But it  just doesn't replace this place where I went to write about little things, big things, funny things, sad things. Everything that makes up my life.
Reading my thoughts and experiences from years past makes me laugh, cringe, reminisce and, frankly, simply remember. (My memory is just about shot after two kids and a full-time job) I truly miss that. It is exponentially harder for me to make the effort now that I have two kids. Clearly I was able to handle it when I had a husband and two pups, though, so there's the pat on my back from myself;)
Hopefully, my friend Jen will think that imitation is the highest form of flattery! As a cross-er off-er (OK, that's just so clumsy and grammatically incorrect. How about "task-oriented person"?), the appeal of an assignment that has specific due dates is extraordinarily appealing. Hey, call it sexy but I'm a gal that like structure.
I am aware that very few people, if any, thinks that is sexy. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

High roller

The Bean has rolled over in the past but they've been flukes. Well, yesterday, December 28, was the day he rolled twice from his back to his stomach.
Oh big boy, you're growing up so fast!

Those cheeks!

Those lips!

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

I don't want to jinx it but ...

At 4 1/2 months, The Bean sleeps 9-12 hours a night.
I remember thinking he would never sleep as good as The Bun who slept 12 hours at 6 months.
Who feels absolutely blessed? THIS MAMA.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Motherhood is...

powering through when I'm in a bad mood, depressed, tired, sad, and/or sick.
BB (before babies), the only way I got better was to rest. I mean, not-do-a-damn-thing-but-stay-in-my-bed kind of rest. This became impossible when I decided to be a mother. Even with my extraordinary village which includes The Man, my parents, school and after school program, a kiddo still needs to be roused, fed, clothed, entertained, and driven somewhere. Essentially, cared for. Would you believe it is easier to rest during the work week than on the weekends? Because during the work week, school and/or childcare is already in place. But on the weekends, it is a tag team effort between two parents (if one is fortunate to have a partner in this game) and there really isn't opportunity to rest unless a parent absolutely needs it.
Why do I mention this? I caught a wicked cold earlier this month which did a number on me. I was able to call in sick one work day but, because I just returned from maternity leave, I only took off that one day. When I don't load up on meds and pass out (my preferred version of rest), it takes longer for me to bounce back.
This morning, I felt the early symptoms of a UTI. As the day wore on, I could tell my UTI was getting worse. I tried cranberry vitamins and lots of fluid, to no avail. I called my healthcare provider in the afternoon to get meds. I knew it was going to go downhill fast. I would be doubled over in pain by nightfall.
Thanks goodness, my provider will push through a prescription without me having to see a doctor.
My husband, kids and I stopped by the pharmacy this evening and picked up my meds. Unfortunately, it takes a few hours to kick in. My discomfort grew and grew. But I powered through.
BB, I would've picked up the meds by myself, went home, and crawled into bed after two glasses of wine to numb the pain and help me sleep. Now, this mama has to remain coherent and sharp. My daughter is still under the weather and the baby still needs to be breastfed. There was no time for futzing.
Motherhood is ugly and beautiful, chaotic and serene, thankless and fulfilling, heartbreaking and abundant with love. It is incredibly ironic. Sometimes, I wonder what the hell I was thinking. Most times, I feel utterly blessed.
Tonight, as I lay next to my husband and am finally resting, I'm so very thankful to be my husband's wife and mama to two lovely kiddos. (The UTI is a mood killer, though.)

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Pregnancy update flashbacks & props to the Nana (& Papa)

I'm not one for selfies. Not because I'm too cool or above them, I'm just a little too critical and self-conscious to be comfortable with them. But I'm so glad I did them with The Bun. So technically, they're called ussies? Whatever. I posted them in my blog but I wanted a page where I could see them all at once so I could show The Bun and, eventually, The Bean:
18 weeks.
19 weeks.
20 weeks.
21 weeks.

22 weeks.
23 weeks.
24 weeks.
25 weeks.
26 weeks.
27 weeks.
28 weeks.
29 weeks.
30 weeks.
31 weeks.
32 weeks.
33 weeks.
34 weeks.
35 weeks.
36 weeks.

37 weeks.

38 weeks.
Now here is the photo I took on my first day back at work:
I wore this dress at 22 weeks, too:) I have to give a shout out to my mom. I wanted to hem all my wrap dresses so that they were above the knee. Then I could also wear them with flats! I found out that each dress would be $20 to hem. I have a lot of wrap and wrap-like dresses. My mom said she would hem them for me for free, the only catch that it would have to be at her pace. Absolutely! So it's like I have a bunch of new dresses. Man, I love my mom. And this also reminds me that, as shorty, I really need to learn how to sew. Simple alterations can really cost a lot!

But totally not the point of this entry:p I wanted to see all my photos together and give my mom huge props at the end. Yes, she is a hemming goddess. But she's also watching my second little one. She knows he is a bit fussy (he hasn't been diagnosed as having colic but she swears he does) and my mom doesn't want to leave him in the hands of a stranger in case they lose their patience with him. So at 72 years of age, my mom has come out of retirement yet again to work 12 hour days to take care of my baby. That is hard work. And my mom isn't a healthy 72 years. She has battled breast cancer, isn't big on fitness and proclaims to be allergic to healthy foods:p What can I say? I can only suggest her to change things. Just like with anyone else, anything more than suggesting is nagging. And yes, she has told me to stop nagging.

Me and the queen bee at my graduation party ten years ago.
I am absolutely blessed to have my parents nearby. My dad will be 80 years old this year. While my mom is the primary care giver to The Bean, my dad steps in here and there when my mom needs a break. This golden dynamic duo makes it possible for me to go back to work and, as my mom likes to point out because she is very fiscally-minded, saves us money on daycare. I admit, I worry because they're health is spotty, but we take it one day at a time. I love and appreciate them so much.
Me & my parents at my wedding six years ago.